Decided on March 22,1999

Sunil Bharti Sharma Appellant
STATE OF JANDK Respondents


- (1.) ON account of turmoil and turbulence in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, for 13 years the Public Service Commission was dormant in the matter of holding examinations for recruitment to the Kashmir Administrative Service. When all other institutions were getting out of shadow of militancy, the Public Service Commission also issued notification on 14th September 1995, whereby applications were invited for the Combined Competitive Examination for direct recruitment to various feeding services to the Kashmir Administrative Service. The total number of vacancies which were notified were 266. These included the vacancies which were to be filled from Open category and also from the categories which were reserved for Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes, backward areas and candidates belonging to Line of Actual Control and also other social castes. There were two stages in this process of recruitment. A combined services (preliminary examination) written and objectice was to be held, and thereafter the combined services (main examination) written and interview was to be conducted. As many as twenty one thousand candidates applied to the Public Service Commission. In the Preliminary examination about 3200 candidates were found to have qualified. A fresh notification bearing No. PSC/EX -96/54 came to be issued on 26th July 96. There was a modification of this notification. A fresh notification was issued on 23rd Sept 96. The examination were to be held from 16th Nov1 96 to 9th Dec1 96. These examinations were conducted, the list of successful candidates was notified The notification indicating the names of the successful candidates was issued on 20th Decâ„¢ 97. The candidates who were unable to make a grade approached this court, Writ petitions were preferred. The method adopted for holding the examination was said to be not in accordance with the law. Accordingly, a writ of Certiorari was claimed. A prayer was made for quashing notification No. PSC/EX -97/91 dt. 20th Decâ„¢ 97. It was prayed that the entire examination process be declared as illegal. The consequential relief which was sought was that the respondent -Public Service Commission be restrained from going ahead with the interview process of the candidates declared to be eligible for such interview. A writ of Mandamus was also claimed. This was to the effect that the respondent -Commission be directed to hold .fresh examinations. In some of the writ petitions, a prayer was made that the Public Service Commission be directed to get the answer scripts re -evaluated. The challenge was made inter -alia on the ground that in the matter of conducting the examination, secrecy was not maintained. It was alleged that the names of the examiners were known to the candidates and that the mark position was altered with a view to benefit the candidates said to be the favourite. It was also urged that as to what would be the cut -off point, was not indicated in the very beginning. Failure to do so was highlighted. In particular, challenge was made interalia on the following grounds: i) that the examination was conducted against the known procedure; ii) that there was no transparency in the system; iii) that the system of moderation having not been adopted, has resulted in disadvantage to some of the candidates; iv) that about 1200 answer scripts were tempered with.
(2.) IT was broadly on the above premises, a challenge was made to the examination which was conducted by the Commission.
(3.) WHEN the matter was initially taken up by a learned Single Judge of this court, he prima facie formed an impression that on account of various factors, the marks which were originally obtained by the candidates were changed. As this rectification had changed the mark position of the candidates and which a view to find out the truth, the learned Single Judge formed an opinion that it would be apt to get the matter examined and certified by a Committee of experts. Two Professors were named for undertaking this exercise. An interim order was passed in this regard. This interim order was passed on 20th May1 98. this interim order was subject matter of challenge in Letters Patent Appeal. The Letters Patent Bench was of the view that the procedure of appointment of a Committee would not be in accordance with law. The interim order was, therefore, reversed. Faced with this situation, the learned Single Judge himself took the exercise which he wanted the experts to undertake. What was said in paragraph 23 of the judgment is relevant in this regard and is being reproduced below: "After the above developments, no option was left with me except to give up the presumptuous ambition of putting the whole exercise of allocation of marks to the scrutiny of experts, and do it myself. This job is really difficult for a Judge. Even then, I did not falter in doing that, with all exactitude and assiduousness at my command." In pursuance of the above observation made, the answer scripts were examined. About thirteen typed pages of the judgment deal with the exercise so undertaken by the learned Single Judge. It was after this examination, a finding stands recorded. This is to the effect that the rectifications made by the Public Service Commission proceeded on correct appreciation of factual position. The additions and subtractions were made in the award in accordance with the law. What was said in paragraph 26 of the judgment under appeal is being reproduced below: "Be it the petitioners, the non -petitioners who were benefited by the rectification, or those of the non -petitioner candidates in every category, who could not be called for interview even if ninety marks were added, in all the cases, by virtue of rectification, the Commission has in every case proceeded on correct analogy. In most of the cases addition and subtraction has been made simultaneously. It cannot be said that addition was made in some cases and subtraction in some. In fact what seems to have been done by the Commission was to undo the wrong done by some of the examiners. It is infact at Commission level that errors committed by the examiners have been corrected. In each and every case I have gone through the question papers, the answer scripts. I have checked up the mathematical calculations and the totaling in all the cases mentioned above. I am afraid, if the rectification would have not been done, miscarriage of justice in eight cases would have occurred.";

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